Even after 13 years of being fit, I still encounter women who have the nerve to say negative things to me about my body. Meanwhile, I’ve had a modeling agent for fitness modeling, I’ve been rewarded by the military for fitness excellence, I’ve appeared in a workout video series, I’m asked by photographers to model regularly, and as a personal trainer, I’ve successfully helped many people reach their fitness goals. The funny part is these women are focused on who looks better than who, as if this is the caveman era and the prettiest girl in the cave gets the best mate.
Look, I take care of myself for simple reasons, and those reasons alone: strength, agility, energy, fitness, mental focus, emotional balance, to be a good role model for my son (at least one woman in his life who doesn’t suffer from jealousy and insecurity about her body) and, finally, I love to push myself! I enjoy setting and reaching goals by finding my weaknesses and addressing them and trying new physical challenges. I also don’t plan on being wheeled around a nursing home and being helped to the bathroom when I’m older.
I don’t dream to look like someone else. My motivations span days, weeks, and decades, and are all personal. That’s what keeps me going to the gym and staying on track with my diet each day. I encourage each of my new clients to think of personal reasons why they should commit to a healthy lifestyle because outside sources of motivation (hoping people will see you as sexy, striving to be the sexiest woman alive, having a fan club) are unreliable and are too dependent on acceptance from others. Accept yourself and what you have to work with.
Ladies, stop trying to look like someone else!
As a personal trainer who has worked with many women and men, I’ve noticed some differences between the genders. Men don’t compare bodies. I never had a male client come to me and say that he wants to look like some celebrity or famous athlete. These are the typical things men came to me for help with, compared to my female clients.
|I want my arms to look like [insert celebrity or fitness model’s name here]||I want more defined arms||There is no science or technique that will get you to look like someone else, but in terms of getting more defined, that’s definitely doable. Who knows, in the end, your arms may look better than your favorite celebrity’s or fitness model’s. Don’t underestimate your potential.|
|I want my butt to look like [insert celebrity or fitness model’s name here]||I heard strengthening my glutes would protect my back from pain and injury, is that true?||There is no science or technique that will get you to look like someone else, but yes, strengthening your glutes will protect your back. It is connected to your lower back and strengthening it both can alleviate and prevent back pain or injury, and the side effect is nice-looking glutes. Who knows, in the end, your glutes may look better than your favorite celebrity’s or fitness model’s.|
|I want my legs to look like [insert celebrity or fitness model’s name here]||I need my legs to be stronger, and I want more mass||There is no science or technique that will get you to look like someone else, but progressive overload will help you build that mass and get stronger, and the training routine I’ll create for you will make improve the overall look of your legs. Who knows, in the end, your legs may look better than your favorite celebrity’s or fitness model’s.|
|Overall goal: to be sexy||Overall goal: to get stronger and have more energy||While looking sexy is subjective and depends on who’s looking at you and making the judgment, and there’s no science to it…I can definitely get you stronger and fitter, which will give you more energy, through proven training techniques that are backed up by sports science.|
Legitimate goals have legitimate ways of BEING reached
Ladies, I know the above chart may seem as if it’s female-bashing, but it’s all real. Of all the women I’ve trained, I can’t think of one who just wanted to get stronger and have more energy. There purpose in getting a trainer was more about pleasing the outside world (people who will see them) than improving themselves on a personal level. Do you know how many times this year I’ve heard women talk about getting butt implants or injections? The answer is almost weekly, and 100% more times than I’ve heard a woman state that she is working out to grow a pair of nice, real glutes. In my experience, I have been on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Your frame of mind can affect how you execute reaching your goal
Goal: To look like someone else
Execution Method 1: Looks up celebrity workouts in a magazine
Celebrities are not exactly the best symbols of athleticism. Many try to maintain a lean physique because they have to, not because they have a passion for it. Also, many crash diet and “crash workout” for roles. Plus, one workout in a magazine is just a snapshot of a whole training regime. The full regime is what gets you the results. Magazines are also not a good resource for fitness information. They are fueled by trends and make most of their money off advertisers. You’re not getting the best fitness advice, your only getting the latest fitness trends. This is not a logical or legitimate method to reaching a fitness goal.
Execution Method 2: Sees a fit person at a gym and copies their workouts (particularly if the exercises look cool or hardcore)
I just have to crack up when I see this, or when I experience it after other gym members see me doing something that took me sometimes a year of practice to achieve. They fail horribly and give up easily. Why cause they are not yet conditioned to do it! This is a concept that the person who does this obviously does not understand. Practice and dedication = achievement.
Execution Method 3: Signs up for personal training
Somehow think that they will reach their goal through the process of osmosis, not listen to their trainer. I’ve worked with these clients…many, many times. I write them their routine and nutrition plan, show them the exercises and execution and every week they come in a perform half-assed. They never learn the exercise and have to be re-shown each, to the point where adding to the routine becomes a challenge to them. Then, the ultimate goal crusher, they don’t follow the nutrition plan. I ask them if they’ve been following the meal plan and the smile and giggle and whine about it being “so hard”. These people spend money on a trainer but have no real intention of following through with the hard work required. They believe in quick fixes and gimmicks, and they believe that there is another gimmick around the corner that will one day rescue them from having to put in the work… the plastic surgeon in Mexico perhaps.
Goal: Strength & Energy
Execution Method 1: Consults a local athlete and asks to train with him/her
While this isn’t the best way to go about reaching your goal because an athlete will likely be at a completely different stage in his/her training than you. Therefore you should not mimic exactly what they do, this is still a better strategy than picking up a magazine. This is because you can talk to the athlete about their experiences when they were at the stage you’re at in your level of fitness, and what they did. You’ll also be more likely to see the most effective exercises for a specific body part performed. If this athlete has been trained by a professional coach, then he/she was likely shown the most effective movements to help them in their sport. Again, this is much better than turning to a magazine for advice.
Execution Method 2: Gets a book recommendation from the local athlete or professional coach
Notice the words athlete as a title, and professional coach…not the random girl or guy at the gym who has a hot body. Then these people lead the goal-seeker to a book written by a professional coach who specializes in the goal seeker’s specific goal(s). Wow, ain’t that something. A book versus an ad-filled eye-catching, photoshopped magazine! Who would’a thought of that? Ever take a college course and have the teacher to tell you to learn the subject via a magazine? No, because to really learn a subject, you’ll need more detail, you’ll need to learn the science. Now, this may sound like a chore to some people, but some of the best fitness books I’ve read have been under 200 pages. If you have taken the magazine route, whether online or a physical magazine, you may have read over 200 pages worth of sub-par crap already.
Execution Method 3: Signs up for personal training
This person puts up their money for personal training and they are determined to get the most out of it. They review the routine and meal plan and adopt the knowledge. They know that changing their diet is hard, but they take it a day at a time. This trainee learns the exercise movements and makes progress more easily because 1.) They follow proper form and their body responds by adapting and getting stronger because of it. 2.) Since they learned the exercises, they don’t have to be re-taught each session and therefore, a higher intensity is maintained during the workout; less time is wasted on instruction. 3.) They are focused. This kind of client is my dream client, but they eventually move on and get a handle on things and no longer need me. This is a sad/happy experience when they have reached their goal and go on to continuing on their fitness journey without personal training. People like this, are much more likely to stay fit for life when pointed down the right path.
If your goal is to change your body, be honest with yourself and define if your goal(s) are personal or external. Are you striving to look like someone else, or to become a better version of yourself? Do you know where to look for good, legitimate information to reach your goal(s)? Do you give up easy or look for quick fixes? Do you really care about your health? If you really want to change your body and have a healthier lifestyle, make your motivations personal. Be selfish. You’ll feel more secure, you’ll appreciate your progress, however minor it may be in the beginning. When you finally reach your goal(s) you’ll have higher self-esteem and no one will be able to knock you off your cloud!
MEET SYLVIA PETRO — THE BROKE, FIT SINGLE MOM: As an athlete of over 16 years and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created this site to aid not only broke single parents to a life of fitness, but anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the road to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; informing readers about mastering both of those building blocks is my goal.